General News of Monday, 23 September 2002
...Tema resident challenges charge
Mr Frank Bo-Amissah, a resident of Tema has filed a writ at the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that the charge, causing financial loss to the state, is inconsistent and in contravention of the Fourth Republican Constitution.
According to him, Section 179 A (3) of the Criminal Code of 1960 (Act 29) as amended by Act 458 is inconsistent with and in contravention of Article 19 (II) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
He is also seeking a declaration that any criminal prosecution trial and conviction done under or on the authority of the said section 179 A (3) of Act 29 is in contravention of the Constitution and therefore is null and void and of no effect.
Mr Amissah is further seeking the court’s declaration to the effect that the prosecution or trial of some former public officers of Ghana under the said section in the suit otherwise known as the Quality Grain Case is being done in contravention of the Constitution.
The Attorney General has been cited as the defendant in the case which was filed at the Supreme Court in Accra last Friday on his behalf by his counsel, Nana Adjei Ampofo of Fidelity Chambers, an Accra-based law firm.
In a statement of claim, the plaintiff asserts that some former government officials have been charged with an offence of wilfully causing financial loss to the state contrary to section 179 A (3) of the Criminal Code of 1960 (Act 29) as amended by Act 458.
According to the plaintiff, the offence of causing financial loss to the state has not been defined and is vague.
“An offence is defined when the elements constituting it are spelt out in clear terms or language to the understanding of the citizenry” he contended adding that such “ a definition must be clear and unambiguous and the conduct being prohibited must be clearly stated since vagueness offends due process of law”.
The plaintiff contended that offences in the Criminal Code are not only created but also they are clearly and unambiguously defined and cited the creations and definitions of assault, forgery, stealing, murder and genocide among others in the code to buttress his point.
He observed that the willfully is neither properly defined nor explained and that what constitutes causing financial loss is also undefined, unexplained, vague and shrouded in confusion.
“This absence of definition leaves a person to guess and speculate on its meaning and its application” he stressed. “When a panel statute is so vague it is liable to be abused since it may be used by prosecuting officials and political opponents,” he added.